Francina Armengol speaking on Friday. | Govern de les Illes Balears

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The Balearic government has blocked the creation of new tourist accommodation places (beds) for a period of four years. This freeze applies to all four islands and to holiday rental as well as hotel accommodation. The government has ordered this by decree, which comes into force immediately, but it will be processed as part of the new tourism legislation, now referred to as the tourism circularity and sustainability law.

In presenting the law, the text of which was approved by the cabinet on Friday, President Armengol highlighted the need for a tourism model which focuses on "quality rather than quantity". High growth over recent years, she acknowledged, has generated a social debate about the balance between tourist places and the islands' ability to withstand pressure.

The four island councils, she explained, will have four years to determine the numbers of tourist places that the individual islands can support. The councils have delegated powers to manage tourism in this way. Over the four years, therefore, it will not be possible to acquire (and pay for) new places from the stocks available in Mallorca, Ibiza and Formentera. In Minorca, where there isn't a pool of places, the freeze will be on new applications.

By the end of the four years, the councils will determine, by reference to their individual territorial plans, whether they wish to recover the stocks or to let them expire. There are 18,718 places in all - 8,486 in Mallorca, 7,000 in Ibiza and 3,232 in Formentera.

Outlining the law, Armengol stressed the commitment to circularity and sustainability and to adapt the tourism model to available resources, the improvement of working conditions and modernisation of establishments. A new hotel star classification system is to reflect all this.